PASO Candidates Say Rule Changes Create 'Artificial Barriers'

(ATR) Two PASO presidential candidates reject a statute revision that could block them from running...

(ATR) Pan American Sports Organization presidential candidates Richard Peterkin and Jose Puello tell Around the Rings they do not support a revision to the PASO constitution that requires recent Olympic Committee experience to become a PASO executive.

In an exclusive interview with the IOC member from Saint Lucia, Peterkin says he believes an experience requirement places "artificial barriers" on who may become the next PASO president.

"This proposal would arbitrarily exclude candidates that have already expressed an interest in running for the position of President, or others that may do so before the elections are called," Peterkin tells ATR.

Although he is the only one of the possible five presidential candidates who is a member of the IOC, the proposal would block Peterkin’s candidacy as he is not a top executive of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee.

"While these proposals may be benevolently intended to build leadership skills within the membership of PASO, and are sympathetic to current relevance and experience, they automatically and unnecessarily exclude many candidates who have had long-term experience in the governance and leadership of PASO, PASO NOCs, CACSO and ACODEPA."

Former Dominican Republic Olympic Committee president Dr. Jose Puello agrees with Peterkin and tells ATR the requirement is an "exclusionary and arbitrary limit". The provision would also make Puello ineligible to enter the election as he ended his run as COD president in 2004.

"This proposal in principle would allow for an individual who had just been elected to his NOC four years ago to be eligible to PASO's EC and would exclude people who have been serving in various levels for 20 years or more," Puello says, hinting at his own tenure as COD president for 22 years.

"Nothing against newcomers and new blood, but the exercise of leadership also requires a modicum of experience."

Peterkin and Puello say this statute revision will be heavily debated at the PASO extraordinary assembly beginning May 4 in Brasilia. PASO will vote to approve a series of revisions to its constitution including adding term limits, changing the amount of votes per country, allowing the possibility of a headquarters change and a bevy of good governance measures taken straight from Olympic Agenda 2020.

"The PASO Workshop in Washington indicated that there are some differences of opinion on some of the proposals, but most of the proposed changes should be easily adopted," Peterkin says. "I am therefore confident that we will be able to approve revised statutes, for the good of the organization and Olympic Sports in the Americas, and I look forward to contributing to that effort."

Peterkin and Puello are members of a field of declared candidates that includes Chilean Olympic Committee president Neven Ilic and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee general secretary Keith Joseph.

Rio 2016 chief and Brazil Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman, is believed to be considering a candidacy but has refused to confirm his interest.

The election will choose a successor forinterim PASO president Julio Maglione. Maglione took over for the long-time president Mario Vasquez Rana who died in 2015.

Nuzman and Ilic did not respond to ATR’s requests for comment regarding the statute revisions. Joseph told ATR he could not comment on the proposed revisions, citing his status as a vice president of PASO.

"It would be unfair for me to comment on the document since I believe that the General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the organization, will ultimately determine in Brasilia, what is considered best for PASO," Joseph said.

Once the constitution revisions are approved in Brasilia, the general assembly will select a date for the election of its next president, likely to fall after the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics conclude in September. Puello tells ATR the election of its next president "is a PASO decision only".

"This election, for whenever we set a date, has to be done in an environment of freedom, trust, democratic principles and free of external influences," says Puello.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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